Cybersecurity is a disaster waiting to happen for small businesses and they need practical advice to stay out of trouble, said the chairman of the Australian Council of Small Business Organizations.
“How problematic is it for small businesses? It’s absolutely there,” said Matthew Addison, who is also executive director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. “That‘It’s not a problem until you get hit. And then when once‘I have been beaten…”
Addison said awareness of the problem was high, but it was easy for a small business to overlook the dangers until it was too late.
“From a small business standpoint, every small business owner,‘sa real stretch of your thinking. I can go and make sales, or I can worry about cybersecurity.” Mr. Addison said.
Speaking on the latest Accountants Daily podcast, Mr. Addison cited the example of an ICB member who experienced months of outage after a security breach.
“Not really‘it didn’t cost them any dollars, but because‘they had been hacked, their emails had been hacked. They had to totally reconfigure and advise all of their clients, and advise the regulators they deal with.,” Mr. Addison said.
“You and I heard about the small business still clicking on the link they thought was legit. They still take the phone call they please‘s of the tax office.
“Hence‘If it’s real, then the question is, how do we prevent it from becoming a real problem for small businesses?”
The recent budget allocated $9.9 billion over 10 years for cybersecurity with much of the money going to high-end defense programs to protect Australia as a whole.
Addison welcomed the initiative, but said small businesses were crying out for practical advice.
“I think we are all aware, but we don’t know what it means or, more specifically, we don’t know what to do about it. I’m looking for that: instructions,” Mr. Addison said.
“So what we need is a series of solutions by intermediaries, those advisors who already help small businesses, empower them to implement cybersecurity techniques.
“How do I protect my email? How do I protect my website? How do I protect my bank accounts? Practical solutions is what I hope some of that budget initiative will address.
“What is the procedure? What does it mean to be at cyber risk? Or what do I have to do to really be in a cyber-safe environment?
Addison said electronic invoicing was a recent development that went hand in hand with cybersecurity, and he urged small businesses to adopt the system.
“This is a better use of a secure digital channel for my business to invoice your business – not just a PDF, not just an email that could be intercepted and bank account details changed – it’s a secure digital channel,” Mr. Addison said.
“From my natural business accounting software I hit ‘e-invoice this.’ You, as the recipient of that invoice, also have to subscribe to the electronic invoicing system, be a recipient of the invoices and they arrive as data.
“That data is received directly into your accounting system. You see it in your inbox and approve it as a valid invoice.
“It’s a better world.”
He said that while the ATO was a strong supporter of the system, it had no visibility into e-invoicing transactions.
Despite its advantages, he said universal adoption of electronic invoicing was still some way off.
“I do not‘I do not think so‘a quick trip. That‘sa difficult to require or make mandatory,” Mr. Addison said.
And while the system could streamline billing to some extent, it favored human approvals before payment.
“A human needs to approve that invoice, approve it‘s the right amount, and there‘It has to be a conscious decision to pay for it,” he said.
“So I really struggle with those who talk about, ‘Oh, this is flow-through automation, the bill will just come in and be paid right away.’
“Well wait, someone‘You have to be in control of what you pay for.”
Philip King is the editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, information and educational content for professionals in the accountancy and SMSF industries.
Philip joined Titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience in a variety of roles at the Australian national broadsheet, most recently as Motorsports Editor. His experience also includes spells in various trade and consumer magazines.